Springer Nature is making SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 research free. View research | View latest news | Sign up for updates

Oculomotor factors in the aetiology of occupational cervicobrachial diseases (OCD)


The traditional posture-ergonomic perspective on the aetiology of Occupational Cervicobrachial Disease (OCD) is discussed and criticized in the light of present knowledge of oculomotor strain during sustained visual work at short distances.

Two experiments on ocularly induced neck muscular tension are reported. In both experiments EMG's were taken from six different muscles in the head, neck and shoulder region during a visual discrimination task. In Experiment 1, accommodation and fusion requirements were systematically varied by changing viewing distance in combination with the application of minuslenses and base-out prisms. EMG was shown to increase as a function of accommodation and fusion load. In Experiment 2, a clinical population with severe and long lasting neck and shoulder problems and inappropriate optical corrections was studied with the same experimental design. EMG was shown to decrease when habitual corrections were replaced by more apppropriate ones.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Abrahams E, Rancier F, Rose PK (1973) Neck muscle and extraocular receptors and their relationships to the tectospinal tract. In: Stein RB, Pearson KB, Smith RS, Redford JB (eds) Control of posture and locomotion. Plenum Press, New York

  2. Alvarado-Mallardt MR, Batini C, Buisseret-Delmat C, Corvisier J (1975) Trigmeninal representations of the masticatory and extraocular proprioceptors as revealed by horseradish peroxidase retrograde transport. Exp Brain Res 23:167–79

  3. Baker R, Precht W, Llinas R (1972) Mossy and climbing fibers projections of extraocular muscle afferents to the cerebellum. Brain Res 38:440–45

  4. Batini CP, Buisseret P, Buisseret-Delmas C (1975) Trigeminal pathways of the extrinsic muscle afferents in cat. Brain Res 85:74–78

  5. Bedwell C (1973) The significance of visual ocular and postural anomalies in reading and writing. U.K.R.A. Conference in The Road to Effective Reading. Ward Lock, London, pp 73–81

  6. Bihaug O (1977) Fysioterapi 1976. En undersøkelse av fysioterapi i instituttpraksis. Fysioterapeuten nr. 10, 1977, nr. 1, 1978

  7. Billig HE Jr (1953) Traumatic head, neck eye syndrome. J Int Coll Surg 20:558–61

  8. Bizzi E, Kalil RE, Tagaliasco V (1971) Eye-head coordination in monkeys: evidence for centrally patterned organization. Science 173:452–54

  9. Borish I (1970) Clinical refraction. The Professional Press, Chicago Ill

  10. Brodal A (1981) Neurological Anatomy in relation to clinical medicine. Oxford Univ Press Inc, London, pp 508–525

  11. Burian HM, von Noorden GK (1976) Binocular vision and ocular motility. Theory and management of strabismus. The C. V. Mosby Company, St. Louis, pp 145–51

  12. Castiglioni AJ, Gallaway MC, Coulter JD (1978) Spinal projections from the midbrain of the monkey. J Comp Neurol 178:320–46

  13. Cook TD, Campell DT (1979) Quasi-experimentation. Design and analysis in field settings. Houghton Mifflin Company, London, pp 123–24

  14. Dainoff MJ (1979) Visual fatigue in VDT operators. In: Grandjean E, Vigliani E (eds) Ergonomic aspects of visual display terminals. Taylor & Francis, London, pp 95–101

  15. Eason RG, White CT (1961) Muscular tension effort and tracking difficulty: Studies of parameters which affect tension level and performance efficiency. Percept Motor Skills 12:331–78

  16. Easton TA (1971) Inhibition from cat eye muscle stretch. Brain Res 25:633–37

  17. Frankel CJ (1959) Medical — legal aspects of injuries to the neck. J Am Med Ass 169:216–23

  18. Fuchs AF, Kornhuber H (1969) Extraocular muscle afferents to the cerebellum of the cat. J Physiol 200:713–22

  19. Gunnarsson E, Søderberg I (1983) Eye strain resulting from VDT work at the Swedish Telecom. Admin. Applied Ergonom 14:61–69

  20. Gunnarsson E (1984) The impact of organizational factors on visual strain in clerical work. In: Cohen BGF (ed) Human aspects in office automation. Elsevier, Amsterdam

  21. Guitton D, Mandl G (1978) Frontal “Oculomotor” area in alert cat. II unit discharges associated with eye movements and neck muscle activity. Brain Res 149:313–27

  22. Kreuger H (1979) Ophtalmological aspects of work with display work-stations. In: Grandjean E & Vigliani E (eds) Ergonomic aspects of visual display terminals. Taylor & Francis, London, pp 31–40

  23. Kuorinka I, Viikari-Juntura E (1982) Prevalence of neck and upper limb disorders (NLD) and work load in different occupational groups. Problems in classifications and diagnosis. J Hum Ergology 11:1

  24. Lie I, Opheim A (1982) Samsynsproblemer (in norwegian). Sigma Forlag A/S, Bergen, pp 110–11

  25. Maeda K, Horiguchi S, Hosokawa M (1982) History of the studies on cervicobrachial disorder in Japan and remaining problems. J Hum Ergol 11:17–29

  26. Onishi N, Nomura H, Sakai KF (1973) Fatigue and strength of upper limb muscles of flight reservation operators. J Hum Ergol 2:131–141

  27. Porter JD, Guthrie BL, Sparks DL (1983) Innervation of monkey extraocular muscles:localization of sensory and motor neurons by retrograd transport of horshradish peroxidase. J Comp Neurol 218:208–19

  28. Rosa RR, Andersen VP (1985) Electromyographic analysis of upper extremity postures. Ergonom Int, Taylor & Francis, London, pp 580–582

  29. Roy RR (1961) The role of binocular stress in the post-whiplash syndrome. Am J Optom Arch Am Acad Optom 38:625–37

  30. Ruggiero DA, Ross CA, Kumada M, Reiss D (1982) Reevaluation of projections from the mesecephalic trigeminal nucleus to the medulla and spinal cord: New projections. A combined retrograde and aterograde horseradish perioxidase study. J Comp Neurol 206:278–92

  31. Simons DJ, Day E, Goodell H, Wolff HG (1943) Experimental studies of headache:muscles of the scalp and neck as sources of pain. Res Publ Assoc Nerv Ment Dis 23:228–44

  32. Stern N (1985) Methods used to improve skills and comfort levels of workers using VTD's. Ergonom Int, Taylor & Francis, London, pp 328–330

  33. Walberg F (1982) Paths descending from the brain stem. An overview. In: Sjølund B, Bjørklund A (eds) Brain stem control of Spinal mechanisms. Elsevier/North Holland Biomedical Press, Amsterdam-Oxford-New York, pp 1–27

  34. Waris P (1980) Occupational cervicobrachial syndromes. A review. Scand J Work Environ Health 6:[Suppl 3] 3–14

Download references

Author information

Correspondence to Ivar Lie.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Lie, I., Watten, R.G. Oculomotor factors in the aetiology of occupational cervicobrachial diseases (OCD). Europ. J. Appl. Physiol. 56, 151–156 (1987).

Download citation

Key words

  • Oculomotor stress
  • OCD
  • Optical corrections